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more  Student Spotlight by Nancy Kolsti


Student Spotlight

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Eagle Camp experience

Two weekends before the Fall 2004 semester started, Ashley Sutton was searching for Scrappy in East Texas.

The freshman biology major from Arlington was one of approximately 400 students who attended Eagle Camp Aug. 20-22 at Sky Ranch, a privately owned camp in Van.


Freshmen practice
the Eagle hand sign before they begin searching for
Scrappy, UNT's mascot, during the three-day camp in Van.

Sponsored by the Office of New Student and Mentoring Programs, Eagle Camp is modeled after other university student retreats that instill school spirit. The camp began in 2001 with only a handful of new freshmen attending but grew to 250, with a long waiting list, by 2003. This year's attendance was the largest ever.

During the weekend, freshmen are placed in spirit groups with 30 to 40 other students — often, students who will be living in the same residence hall. Led by two to three student counselors, the spirit groups participate in a skit competition.

This year, the students also had a scavenger hunt to find a stuffed toy Scrappy, UNT's Eagle mascot. During time away from their spirit groups, the freshmen had access to volleyball courts, a swimming pool and water slides, a ropes course, miniature golf and other outdoor games.

Sutton says she decided to attend Eagle Camp to meet new friends. She learned about it during freshman orientation.

"Orientation was a lot of meetings. Since I was trying to figure out my fall schedule, I didn't really have that much free time to meet people," she says. "Eagle Camp was more relaxed. I met many types of people I probably wouldn't have talked to in high school. At Eagle Camp, it didn't matter if you were a cheerleader or in band or something else in high school. We're all equal because we're all freshmen."

Edward Babino, a sophomore communication studies major from Beaumont, enjoyed Eagle Camp so much in 2003 that he became a counselor this year.


On the final day, Scrappy is found by one of the spirit groups.

"I really wasn't a social person in high school," Babino says. "Eagle Camp gave me a more easy transition from high school to college, since most of the friends I made there were in my residence hall."

Sarah Lindberg, a senior public relations major from Mesquite and student director of this year's camp, says the Office of New Students and Mentoring Programs hopes to expand Eagle Camp to multiple weekends in 2005 to serve more freshmen.

"I tell students that Eagle Camp is the best investment you can make for yourself, since it allows you to network and form friendships before most students are on campus for the fall semester," she says.

"Eagle Camp is also a great investment for UNT because the students who attend become more self-confident and eager about the fall semester. They're the ones who are going to football games and becoming active in student organizations, which will probably make them active alumni later."

*Web exclusive additional photos from Eagle Camp



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